Terra Felix was originally launched as the second label to the highly respected Tallarook Wines and grew to become a premium winemaking estate
Using excess grapes from Tallarook and surrounding vineyards, Terra Felix immediately caught the attention of wine reviewers. The initial vintages concentrated on commercial varieties such as Shiraz, Merlot Cabernet and Chardonnay. The problem facing the fledging brand was that there were plenty of these wines available on the market and distribution was a challenge. It was decided that Terra Felix should reposition its offering and concentrate largely on using Northern Rhone grape varieties. And why not? The growing conditions, soil and climate around Tallarook bear an uncanny resemblance to Northern Rhone.
The Goulburn region has shown a natural affinity with the Northern Rhône varieties. In January 2003, the region was awarded its own GI (Geographical Indicator) recognition. Shiraz, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier, all flourish here, not surprising considering the uncanny similarities between the two regions. Steep granite slopes falling away to alluvial valley floors; a continental climate with comparable sun hours, rainfall and heat summations.
The Shiraz therefore became a Shiraz Viognier, the Merlot Cabernet was replaced with a Mourvedre; a Marsanne Roussanne was introduced, and only the Chardonnay remained from the initial offering. Those who know the Tallarook Chardonnay will understand why Chardonnay survived. Simply the fruit was too good to pass over. With the release of the new varieties in 2004, Terra Felix started to gain momentum in its growth.
Tallarook acquired a contract winery in the Yarra Valley called Master Winemakers. Winemaker Terry Barrett came with an impressive pedigree, most recently he had been chief at Brown Brothers. There his role required him to run the entire Operating Division which included internal and external grape supply, winemaking, and packaging. He was responsible for wine that had won over 50 trophies and 200 gold medals at national and international wine shows. He led innovation at Brown Brothers with the introduction of Italian and Spanish grape varieties as well as the flagship Patricia Range of wines.
By the end of 2005 Terra Felix was emerging as a strong business in its own right. It was decided that the Board of Terra Felix would split and three members would buy out the initial owner. A close relationship was maintained with Tallarook through grape supply and wine making at Master Winemakers. Winemakers Terry Barrett and Trina Smith continued their passion to make Terra Felix a highly recognised brand. Their efforts culminated in the 2005 Terra Felix Shiraz Viognier being awarded Wine of the Year by the Penguin Good Australian Wine guide. Terra Felix was being taken seriously indeed.
At the behest of winemaker Terry Barrett, vinification moved to Mitchelton where Terry could make Terra Felix utilising a much more sophisticated infrastructure than he had at his disposal. He also was keen to lock in supply of very high quality fruit. This required finding vineyards that were prepared to partner Terra Felix in their plans to grow the brand in Australia and at the export market. Today, the fruit for Terra Felix is grown by a number of small family owned vineyards from around the region of the Upper Goulburn, an area which is becoming renowned internationally as source of some of Australia's finest wines.